When In Doubt, Add Red

It is not my favorite color, although it is the number one for many. If you were to look in my closet, not a single garment of this shade would be found. There are corals, pinks and oranges amidst the sea of black, but no red. Above: Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Hatsugarasu’.

Out and about in the realm of the Fairegarden, there are a few of this hue, but there is no sea of red here. It is more of a punch of red, red as an accent color. Above: From 2011, unknown red asiatic lily.

In the looseleaf notebook of handwritten lists and journal entries, on the page of ideas for the coming season is the line, *add reds* to several of the beds. Some notes are even more specific with *add more red Salvia greggii* for permanent plantings and *add more red Salvia coccinea*, shown above in 2011, to places in the garden that need more pizzazz via annuals.

For pizzazz is what red adds, it draws the eye like a moth to a moonflower. Last year we added flats of red Salvia scandens along the forty foot wall, to enhance and jazz up the Japanese blood grass and Euphorbia ‘Chameleon’ that has colonized there. The day it was planted, in late April, we took the above photo. That is the best it looked the whole summer. Perhaps S. coccinea will be happier there.

Above: Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ is a true red in the Black Garden, backing Monarda didyma ‘Raspberry Wine’ (2010).

Red leaves have nearly the same impact as the flowers, and are much longer lasting, not to mention the flambeau touch they add when backlit. Above: Rouge de Hiver red romaine lettuce afire in a blue pot.

Since this has been proclaimed the year of food here, click here to read about that, these ornamental edibles, like the swiss chard fit the bill in many ways.

The red foliage of the threadleaf Japanese maples makes a real statement in the garden, this one is Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’. And look at that, the deciduous azaleas are blooming along the Azalea Walk. The red one, Rhododendron ‘Crimson Tide’ really does stand out amongst the group, doesn’t it?


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18 Responses to When In Doubt, Add Red

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Yummmy, I love those shots of red in the garden. It does make one take notice of an area.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. The little dabs of red really add to the overall look.

  2. Good morning Frances The shots of red in your garden really pop and I love it. I love using red in late summer when color is down somewhat. I sometimes put red, yellow, and orange together and that wakes up the eyes. Also the hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to these bright colors.

    Hi Sandy, thanks. Red really perks up a garden, early, mid or late season. The hummers love those red Salvias, here.

  3. Layanee says:

    Red does light up a spot doesn’t it? Your garden looks great in red.

    Hi Layanee, thanks so much. Light up, yes, that is a good way to put it. Like a spotlight.

  4. gail says:

    Frances, Marvelous reds. No sea of red in my garden either, but I do like pops of red. Red Cardinal flower is one I am hoping is finally established but, the blue seems happier! Perhaps the garden’s inner stylist is picking and choosing the preferred colors! I was hoping that the dahlia ‘Nearly Wild’ I planted last year survived. So far, no sign of it. I do wear red, but, it must have a large helping of blue in it to turn it from a hot color to a cool one! xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thanks. Your garden reds are wonderful, I envy that cardinal flower! We do have a red dahlia, Bishop of Llandaff that is the most perfect red, blooming very late in the season. I don’t know how I would feel about a whole swath of it, though.

  5. I can’t wear this color either and I don’t have it in my home but it sure looks great in the garden!


    Hi Eileen, thanks for visiting. I am sorry to hear you also suffer from *don’t look good in red*. But, we do know what that color does for a landscape, especially against those green leaves.

  6. Have you ever thought about propagating your ‘Crimson Queen’ maple? I have been thinking about propagating my ‘Garnet’. The bark is split on the trunk, love the tree, so thought I would try to make more just in case it doesn’t make it.
    I have added a lot of red this year, didn’t plan to –just happened. Two red lobelias, some red zonal geraniums, some ‘Red Threads’ Alternathera, and a red Castor bean (to help with the vole problem). Oh and three more red azaleas. Am I entering my red phase?

    HA Janet, your red phase sounds delightful! I have found little seedlings under the little maples, but have never managed to grow one on to adulthood, or even teenagerhood. Since they are grafted, I am not sure how they would work anyway, but good luck with your efforts! I love all of your reds, that alternathera grows so well here, too.

  7. Leslie says:

    I am much more likely to wear red than plant it…but there is a bit of it here and there in my garden. It certainly does add a nice shot of color.

    Hi Leslie, you are lucky with your coloring! Red accents in the garden highlight any other color, I have found.

  8. georgiafromga1 says:

    Oh Frances, here I have been traveling to nurseries looking for your orange butterfly weed thinking THAT would be daring enough amongst my yellows, pinks and purples. I do have the most magnificent Boodgood Japanese maple though so maybe I have red covered. Gorgeous, gorgeous shots of all your reds.

    Hi Georgie, thanks. I have studied the matter of what to plant with those bright oranges, and believe it or not, red is perfect, especially if you throw some purples in there, too.

  9. commonweeder says:

    I have a lot of red in my closet and in my rooms, and lots of pink in the garden. Who can count the number of pink roses that exist? I can never help myself. Your garden is always beautiful no matter what color you are concentrating on, on any given day.

    Hi Pat, thanks for those sweet words, you are too kind. Lucky you being able to wear red! Now pink, that is for me, in my closet and in my garden.

  10. spurge says:

    I love your “punches” of red – especially those red lilies with the blue nigella in the background! That tree peony is exquisite. Too bad they don’t bloom for longer!

    Hi Spurge, thanks. It is too bad about the tree peonies bloom time, even in good weather. This year, we had summer in March and tree peonies set a new record for shortest bloom period. Oh well, a gardener’s motto is *There’s always next year*.

  11. Jeannine says:

    I can’t wear red at all but I love it in the garden! In California we have lots of large red bougainvillea–it’s stunning!And lately I love it paired with orange and yellow.

    Hi Jeannine, thanks for adding in here. Having lived at one time in SoCal, I remember well the bougainvillea, we had an apricot one growing on the side of our house and it was amazing. I always liked the color mixed together, too. Beautiful!

  12. Great shots! Red is definitely the colour. We are trying to add more red to our hot border this year as it has all got a bit yellow. You have given me some good ideas. I must look our for that monarda.

    Hi Green Bench, thanks. A hot border sounds like it must have red, and orange and purple, ala Christopher Lloyd. I saw his tulips in bloom with all of those colors and was smitten. That particular monarda is my favorite, Raspberry Wine, it performs the best in my hot and dry summer.

  13. Frances, red is a great color for impact…I actually have a mostly red garden which was fun to create….I love red in the garden from tulips, to roses, lilies and daylilies…so many native reds as well especially lobelia…I love wearing red too…

    Hi Donna, thanks for joining in here. Your red garden sounds divine. I have found that in my black garden with the dark foliage and flowers, red is just the thing to keep the whole from disappearing.

  14. Patsi says:

    Red works for me !! Plus that blue pot doesn’t hurt.

    Hi Patsi, thanks for visiting. I am glad to hear you like the red. It is all about contrast, isn’t it?

  15. Sharon says:

    Good thought! A few years after moving into my house and deciding what color all the rooms should be I started realizing that red objects kept appearing even in rooms that I thought weren’t appropriate for red, and yet they looked good. So I decided to go for it and use a little bit of red accent pretty much throughout. Why not in the garden too? I already have red in my garden, but now I’ll think about using it more intentionally,

    Hi Sharon, thanks for adding your thoughts here. Red accents are wonderful, even red walls in certain circumstances. But my house is very neutral, calming and peaceful. I get the color jolts of red out in the garden.

  16. Red leaves, I’m a particular fan of, especially when they catch the sun. That romaine looks delicious.

    Hi Helen, thanks for visiting. There is nothing like red leaves backlit, and even better when you can eat them!

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